Accelerating with a Backward Glance

“Our weakest area as a team? Taking time to reflect. We never look back.”

It’s a typical sentiment that moving fast means always moving forward. Standing still makes you a target.

Those of you who have been following the Skipper Report for years might have noticed things have been quiet lately. No newsletters or videos for 4 weeks! I decided to create space to reflect on what my clients have been asking for and the value I deliver to people like you so I could package it in a more accessible way. No sense cranking out more content if you are going to shift gears.

A pause sends a signal. Something is up. Something important is happening.

Starbucks made headlines for closing its stores to reflect and re-orient; necessary steps to ignite a change in thinking and behavior. They engaged customers and communities in the reflection process.

As The Salvation Army prepared to launch it’s final phase of an enterprise technology rollout, the team took an afternoon to consider learnings from the previous phase. As a result, we changed the plan, re-prioritized tasks and designed a new support strategy that shifted the typical “send us a request and we will get back to you” approach to a dedicated portfolio manager strategy. No ticketing system. Users had direct contact with team members who provided rapid response. We lost the ability to track the number of support requests, but we gained in a dramatically smoother rollout and shortened transition period.

For my own reflection time, I didn’t stop working these past 4 weeks. I allocated significant blocks of time to think and record my thoughts. My website looks the same, but the messaging is now very different.

When my clients take time to reflect, they learn. They question decisions that were made and challenge assumptions about where they are going. They allow new ideas to infiltrate their thinking, creating fertile ground for innovation.

Changing Your Mind

The Salvation Army’s CIO recently told me, “You can’t be strategic if you are looking at your shoes.” What can you do to get your head up and consider where you’ve been and the path you are taking?

The challenge: Block one hour in your calendar to think about the following:

  • What is going really well? What does that tell me in terms of strengths?
  • What can we learn from recent failures?
  • What are we still doing that we should have stopped a long time ago? Are we band-aiding something to make it work or carrying on with a task that delivers less and less value?
  • In what areas are others within and outside my company jumping ahead?
  • Where in the past have we made major changes successfully? Why?
  • What does a successful future look like for my team?

The best athletes consistently take time to study their performance. Give your brain room to think. Pause to reflect.

Thoughtfully yours,

Jeff Skipper

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